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Beyond Braddon: Forgotten Female Sensationalists (October 31, 2011)
full name / name of organization:
Anne-Marie Beller and Tara MacDonald / Women's Writing
The past thirty years have witnessed a transformation in our perception of the mid-Victorian literary field, due in large part to the extensive recovery of sensation fiction and a corresponding recognition of that genre’s importance in the literary debates, trends, and wider cultural practices of the period. As Andrew Maunder has recently suggested, “[i]t is now acknowledged that if sensation fiction is cut out of the picture it is impossible to gain an accurate sense of nineteenth-century literary historiography”. While scholarly work on sensation fiction has expanded greatly in the past few years, this work, until very recently, has focused on a narrow range of authors and works, with Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and Ellen Wood retaining the preponderance of critical attention.
This special issue of Women’s Writing aims to contribute to our current understanding of sensationalism by turning the spotlight on the many forgotten female novelists and dramatists who contributed to the Victorian understanding of literary sensation. By moving beyond the women sensation novelists who have come to represent the genre (especially Braddon and Wood) our objective is to gain a fuller, more nuanced, understanding of the spectrum of writing that collectively worked to construct the concept of ‘sensationalism’ for Victorian readers and critics. We also hope to shed light on the specific concerns of female sensationalists, as the role of the ‘proper’ woman writer frequently conflicted with that of the supposedly immoral sensation author.
Articles might address whether there existed distinct forms of female sensationalism and whether such categorisations remain useful or limiting to current critics. We welcome essays on authors who have begun to receive renewed attention, such as Rhoda Broughton, Florence Marryat, and Ouida, as well as those who remain largely forgotten. Writers we would particularly like to consider in the issue include, but are by no means limited to:
• Rhoda Broughton
Please submit articles for consideration between 4,000-7000 words to Anne-Marie Beller, Loughborough University (email@example.com) and Tara MacDonald, University of Amsterdam (T.C.MacDonald@uva.nl) by 31 October 2011.
Contributors should follow the journal’s house style, details of which are to be found on the Women’s Writing web site